Russia may hold new ballot to re-elect federation president

Incumbent RFB head Yulia Anikeyeva in hot water over disputed election.

Just four months into her new job, Russian Basketball Federation (RFB) President Yulia Anikeyeva might see her tenure at the helm of the organization cut short. Last Friday, a judge at Moscow’s Presnensky Court ruled to partially satisfy a claim by the Perm Basketball Federation, annulling the results of the Aug. 2 presidential election. Anikeyeva had claimed a landslide victory, winning 97 votes against 63 garnered by her chief rival and Perm Basketball Federation nominee Svetlana Abrosimova.

The plaintiff had claimed that numerous procedural violations had taken place in the run-up to the ballot. In particular, Perm officials complained that RFB had assigned only three seats to the Urals region in the electoral body that voted at RFB’s election conference in August. Abrosimova’s camp sought larger representation and decided to take the matter to court after 33-year-old double European champion and Olympic bronze medalist lost to Anikeyeva.

The case was first set to be heard on Oct. 8, only to be postponed several times due to various reasons.

Commenting on the ruling, Anikeyeva said it was “illogical, to say the least” and added that RFB’s lawyers would file an appeal. She said she was confident the ruling would eventually be overturned.

Abrosimova’s comments were short as she tweeted: “No better gift than [this] long-awaited news.”

Anikeyeva’s short reign has been marked by a series of scandals that shook the foundation of Russian basketball. Her predecessor Alexander Krasnenkov resigned on July 1 and two weeks later acting president Anikeyeva unexpectedly sacked the national team’s general manager Oleg Ushakov. On July 19, then Russian head coach Fotis Katsikaris informed her he was stepping down, too. As the Greek tactician explained in an open letter to Anikeyeva and the Russian press, his boss had wanted all along to replace him with a Russian coach.

“I prefer TO LEAVE my post, so you can easily implement your plans. I would only like to wish luck to the Russian team and may they achieve the best result possible under the circumstances,” the 46-year-old coach said as he bid farewell.

After Katsikaris’ departure, RFB appointed Triumf Lyubertsy coach Vasily Karasyov as the Greek’s successor. Russia’s performance at EuroBasket 2013 in Slovenia was catastrophic as the team failed to clinch second phase and finished the tournament with the worst result in Russia’s post-Soviet era, sharing 21-24th places with Israel, Macedonia and Poland. Despite Anikeyeva’s guarantees that he would retain his post until 2016, Karasyov was recently replaced by Eurocup 2013 winner, Lokomotiv Kuban head coach Yevgeny Pashutin.

In mid-October, less than three months into his job as Team Russia’s new general manager, Fyodor Voropayev quit his post explaining he couldn’t continue to work with Anikeyeva whom he called a “weak and inefficient manager.”

“She doesn’t like and cannot work with people who present counter-arguments. She needs complete submission,” Voropayev told RBC Daily in an interview.

He added that his assistant had been fired without explanation on the eve of EuroBasket after working for only a month. According to him, the sacking had a negative influence on the atmosphere in the national team. “Serious managers don’t act like that,” he said.

Voropayev also said that “based on the events of the last three months” he was inclined to think the Aug. 2 presidential election might have been rigged.

“It might have been illegal. However, I can’t state that for sure, the court will have the final say [on that matter],” he said, concluding he decided to quit after realizing he couldn’t work any longer with Anikeyeva’s team.

“I’m accustomed to working with professionals,” he said.

Anikeyeva inherited the post from Krasnenkov who managed to completely wipe out RFB’s 4-million-euro debt and who heavily opposed what he called “destruction of the Russian championship” by the expanding VTB League. His three-year tenure also included one of the most successful spells in Russian basketball as the men’s national team under David Blatt twice claimed the podium, winning bronze medals at EuroBasket 2011 and 2012 Olympics, while Russian women won the continental title in 2011.